There’s more to you and I than what we do for work.
I realized this about 3 years after starting my career. Call it maturity, call it my ah-ha moment, whatever it was… something triggered me to ask myself:
Is this the life I want to be living?
I had a job that I loved so much I worked at least 10 and sometimes up to 16 hours per day. I felt I was making an impact on the business, I was growing, I had the chance to lead, and I was being recognized as one of the top performers… not only within my peer group, but the entire site. Work was beautiful. I was “living the dream”.
However, life outside of work told a different story.
My girlfriend and I would fight almost daily. About small, petty, things… so small we couldn’t remember what we fought about the next day. Our fun dates and spontaneous adventures stopped happening. Spending time with one another started to feel like an obligation rather than a privilege.
Another area of my life I was neglecting was my health. I remember one winter, I was sick for 2 weeks and whatever was wrecking my body showed no signs of stopping. In my mind, there was too much work to do and too many people counting on me… I couldn’t possibly call in sick. By night, I was curled up in bed wearing my winter coat, sweating and shivering at the same time. By day I mustered up the strength show up like some kind of super-leader… giving direction to my teams in between coughs.
My financial situation was embarrassing. I was bringing in a big salary but little of it was being saved or invested. I had GAS otherwise known “gear acquisition syndrome”. Instead of doing my hobbies, I just bought a bunch of stuff. An example of this is a $3500 guitar. I got every accessory possible for the thing; picks, humidifiers, extra strings, polishers, microfiber wipes, tuners, amplifiers… you name the accessory, I had it. The poor guitar rarely saw the light of day.
My social life was non-existent. In fact, people would stop inviting me because I would never show up… or they’d put me on the invite list out of courtesy. I don’t blame them.
I knew these things were happening but for too long I did nothing.
My answer to the big question was no. And I believed I could change it.
I started reading books on leadership, relationships, productivity, finance, health, minimalism, business, etc. I subscribed to podcasts, attended conferences, sought out mentors…
I learned. I took action. I saw results. And when I didn’t, I’d try something else.
These seemingly simple changes in how I lived my life resulted in my girlfriend becoming my wife, having natural energy that lasts all day, and being able to have fun with my hobbies. Ultimately, it brought me closer to my ideal life.
I feared how this shift in focus, time, and energy would affect work. You know what happened? The year after I began to make these changes, I was rated highly amongst my peer group, got promoted, and received the biggest raise I had ever earned. Most importantly, I felt even more fulfilled by my work and began to understand that work is just one part of my life.
I didn’t think where I am today was possible. But now I know all it took was having a vision for where I wanted to go, planning how to get there, developing a mindset that busted through roadblocks, and taking consistent action every day.
I still see people at work who are well thought of but are burned out and stressed… sacrificing health and home life to climb that ladder a little faster.
The sad fact is that some of them will get to the finish line only to find their kids grew up without them noticing and their spouse became a roommate. Their body will show the wear and tear from the climb… shoulders slouched, belly out, and no life left in their face.
The good news that you can cross that finish line having enjoyed the journey… with a smile on your face to prove it.
You can kick ass at work without sacrificing the areas of life that matter most.